Huron-Wendat Nation Wants to Operate Casino

The Huron-Wendat First Nation in Quebec has made it official. They want to operate a new casino in Sainte-Foy alongside Loto-Quebec.

According to tribal leaders, they have been wanting to do this since 2014. They feel that this is the perfect opportunity to make it happen. And they are making it known to all who will listen.

A Long Time Coming

Huron-Wendat Nation Grand Chief Konrad Sioui believes that the time has come for the Huron-Wendat Wendake to operate a casino in Quebec.

The one in their sights is on the grounds of the National Defense. This is located near Place Sainte-Foy, Laurier Quebec, and Place de la Cite shopping centers and social hubs. There is a spot of land of about 1.3 million square feet on which a casino could compliment other businesses and restaurants. This also extends to new residences. That land is currently estimated to be worth $35 million.

Sioui spoke about it to Le Journal de Quebec. “We must look at all the opportunities,” he said. “We need revenue for our community, which is growing rapidly.”

He also noted that the Mohawks of Kahnawake and Kanesatake already operate Playground Poker and Casino, a very popular establishment that hosts events from the likes of the World Poker Tour.

Partnerships Welcome

Sioui noted that a partnership with Loto-Quebec would be the most likely scenario. “It’s something that can be envisaged,” he said.

The tribe has wanted to host such a project since 2014. However, they believe the time has come, and Loto-Quebec would be the ideal partner to help with the land purchase.

According to Sioui, the tribe’s discussions with Ottawa officials are now at a “very advanced” stage. Minister of Finance Eric Girard is one of the people involved in talks to relocate the Quebec City’s gaming hall and making it into a larger casino.

Loto-Quebec, however, has not commented on the gaming hall relocation or any discussions with Sioui or the Huron-Wendat Nation.

Huron-Wendat History

As one of the oldest tribes known to Canadian lands, the Huron-Wendat Nation in Quebec City. They have occupied the estuary and St. Lawrence Valley all the way to the Great Lakes for centuries.

Originally, Chief Donnacona welcomed explorer Jacques Cartier in the 1530s. The French-speaking First Nation has remained on the land since. Its rights were put into writing by the 1760 Huron-British Treaty.

In 2008, the Council of the Huron-Wendat Nation implemented a new strategy to maintain their rights protected by that centuries-old treaty. It also vowed to create more economic opportunities in partnership with the larger government entities.

The land was then promoted as Nionwentsio, which meant the “magnificent territory” in the native Huron-Wendat language. And an office was set up to promote it through multiple projects and initiatives.

First Nations Casinos

Many tribes have found that casinos and gambling establishments have been key to attracting new revenue streams and spurring economic development.

As of 2019, there are 17 First Nation casinos – five in Alberta, six in Saskatchewan, one in British Columbia, two in Manitoba, and three in Ontario.

There are none yet in Quebec.

Past First Nations Casino Battles

The most memorable of the First Nations battles for casino property was the one just settled several months ago. It involved the Wahzhushk Onigum Nation.

The tribe fought for many years for the right to operate a casino in Kenora in Ontario. The property was not on tribal land, but Wahzhushk Onigum bid on the project, which included the management of several casinos overseen by the Ontario Lotteries and Gaming Corporation (OLC).

The OLC ultimately awarded the multi-casino deal to Gateway Casinos. However, there is the idea it wasn’t given fair consideration due to their limited resources and inability to outbid a large corporation like Gateway.

This year, Wauzhushk Onigum Nation ultimately took their case to the Ontario Superior Court, hoping to win another chance to compete for business they felt was wrongfully awarded elsewhere.

However, the court ruled against the tribe.

It wasn’t that the tribe didn’t have standing, but the judges ruled that they waited too long to make a move. Since the OLG awarded the Kenora casino project to Gateway back in 2012, the tribe should have challenged the decision at that time instead of seeming to congratulate and support Gateway.

It seems that the Huron-Wendat Nation took notice that waiting is not a good option. Instead, it is better to be proactive and push forward with intentions from the start. Sioui is out in front of the story and their intentions should be clear to the media and to Loto-Quebec.

The project is still far from a decision. But Sioui is ensuring that his tribe will be a part of the discussions going forward.

 

Jennifer Newell

Jennifer Newell

Jennifer Newell has been writing about poker and gambling since 2004. From her days in the WPT offices to covering summers of WSOP tournament action, she also followed gambling legislation to Washington D.C. and women-only poker to the Bahamas. Meanwhile, she lived in Los Angeles and Las Vegas for many years before moving back to her hometown of St. Louis, Missouri. Now, Jen travels less, writing about poker and online gambling from her home with her two dogs watching her every move. In her spare time, she follows politics, works on her never-finished novels, and learns Italian in the hopes of retiring to Italy someday.

If you want to know more, you can follow Jen on Twitter @WriterJen

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